Could you be Sidmouth’s next ‘food waste hero’?

Food Waste Hero Neil Cole.

Food Waste Hero Neil Cole. - Credit: Archant

A Sidmouth man who has been redistributing unwanted supermarket food during lockdown is hoping someone else will take over his role when he goes back to work.

Neil Cole has been taking part in the Food Waste Hero programme, collecting food fast approaching its use-by date from the Seaton branch of Tesco and taking it to his home.

Using an online app called Olio, he lists the items he has available, and people can arrange a time to collect them the following day.

He is currently picking up food from the supermarket twice a week, and has up to 12 people receiving it free of charge on each collection day.

Mr Cole, who normally works full-time as a project manager, found his job had been put on hold during lockdown.

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He was already using the Olio app, which enables individuals to give away unwanted food, and through it he discovered the supermarket food redistribution programme.

He said: “I thought there must be something I can do, something purposeful, either to help people who’ve suddenly become disadvantaged, or have always been disadvantaged.

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“I happened to open the app one day and found they were looking for food waste heroes, they’d established that for a small fee per collection all the food the supermarkets were about to throw out could be repurposed and redistributed.

“On the schedule there were six opportunities to go to Tesco Tuesday to Sunday and they were looking for people to fill those slots, so the penny just dropped and I thought I’m going to go for this, so I put myself forward.”

As well as collecting perishable food, he has been able to take some non-perishable items with damaged packaging, and take them to the Sidmouth food bank.

He said: “The only challenge is when they’ve got too much I can’t get it all in my fridge.”

Mr Cole has been pleased to help the scheme during lockdown, but is expecting to return to work soon, and hopes someone else will step in.

Visit the Olio website for further information on the programme, and for opportunities to give away or receive unwanted food.

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